Cook Children’s to Host ‘Med Take Back’ Event Saturday with DEA
Free Lockboxes to be Distributed in Exchange for Unused and Expired Medications (while supplies last)
Fort Worth, Texas – Cook Children’s Health Care System is teaming up with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this weekend to prevent medication overdoses. The groups are hosting a Med Take Back event on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cook Children’s administrative building located at 7000 Calmont Ave. in Fort Worth.
Event leaders will be collecting unused and expired medications in a drive-thru in the building’s parking lot, and distributing free medication lockboxes.
Stacey Vanvliet, M.D., an inpatient pediatric hospitalist at Cook Children’s, stresses the importance of locking medications up, even if they seem harmless. She said suicide attempts “have become part of my daily practice” and most are overdoses on a substance that’s “convenient for the children and teens to grab.” While most patients are in their teens, children as young as 8 or 9 are routinely admitted to Cook Children’s for attempting suicide with medication.
“Commonly, we see Tylenol, Motrin, aspirin, Benadryl—things that people just stock in their cabinets to have on hand,” she said. “We see teenagers take huge handfuls of them.”
Each year, Cook Children’s treats hundreds of children and teens for medication poisonings and overdoses. Sadly, the number of these patients continues to reach record levels year after year.
"It is a huge problem right now. We’re seeing more kids in the hospital for opioid overdoses than ever before," said Artee Gandhi, M.D., medical director of Pain Management at Cook Children’s.
Dr. Gandhi also points out that a recent letter published in the American Medical Association reported a 20% increase in drug overdose deaths among 14 to 18 year olds from 2020. The 1,150 deaths is double the number reported in 2019.
“While teen drug use has remained relatively stable, the biggest problem is kids trying to get their hands on prescription opioids such as oxycodone or other medications such as Xanax and Adderall,” Dr. Gandhi said. “So often, counterfeit versions of these drugs are laced with deadly amounts of fentanyl. Therefore, it is paramount that parents, educators and health care providers argue against medication misuse or drug experimentation at all.”
**Dr. Artee Gandhi and DEA agents will be available for interviews at this event.